North Carolina immigrants or potential immigrants may have heard the term family-based immigration and wonder exactly what it means. In its simplest terms, family-based immigration refers to being able to immigrate to another country if you already have a family member living there as a permanent resident or citizen.
Family-based immigration is the root of immigration law. Once a family member immigrates to another country, typically in search of a better life and more opportunity, it is natural to want to bring the rest of the family over once they have settled. Family-based immigration provides this chance.
Who counts as family?
Spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21 and parents who are at least 21 years old qualify as family for family-based immigration purposes. Family-based immigration also applies to orphans adopted overseas or who intend to be adopted by U.S. citizens.
If a U.S. citizen is over the age of 21, their siblings, along with the sibling’s spouses and minor children are considered family and may be sponsored for a family-based visa. Family members outside of immediate family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, are not considered family and cannot be sponsored
Once you’ve determined which family members could qualify for a family-based visa, you can begin the immigration process. The process is often lengthy and complex, as it involves an application, background checks, income requirements, a medical examination, screenings and various other requirements for both the sponsor and the family member hoping to immigrate.
With all these requirements and steps, it is vital to follow all directions and meet all deadlines. Even with everything done perfectly, the process can still take years and in some cases, decades.
Being separated from family members is tough, especially when it is difficult or impossible to see them regularly if they are in another country. A knowledgeable immigration attorney is a valuable resource to have during this time.